Greatest Test team: England’s 2010 Ashes heroes edge out Graeme Smith’s South Africa side to make semi-finals

Another ‘extra Test’ was needed, but England’s 2010 Ashes winners overcame Graeme Smith’s 2013 South Africans to clinch the final spot in the Greatest Test Team semi-final, winning their series 3-2.

England started the first Test strongly, with 98 from Jonathan Trott and 79 from Kevin Pietersen, but Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander made the most of the second new ball to bowl England out for 349. JP Duminy and Robin Peterson then added 166 for the seventh wicket to help South Africa recover from 175-6 to reach 394 all out, a lead of 45.

  • The Greatest Test team – an introduction and the league phase
  • Quarter-final 1: McGrath sees off 1982 West Indies
  • Quarter-final 2: Can South Africa topple the ‘invincibles’?
  • Quarter-final 3: Kohli’s men through against 1959 Aussies

Steyn was soon into his work in the second innings, dismissing Pietersen and Paul Collingwood for ducks to finish with figures of 7-74 as England could only muster 186. South Africa had few alarms chasing the 142 they needed to win and go 1-0 up.

England were sitting pretty at 230-3 in their first innings of the second Test before the lower order subsided to Steyn once again and the innings ended at 258. But England’s bowlers soon reduced the South Africans to 5-2 and they never really recovered. The wickets were shared as England gained a first-innings lead of 52.

Half-centuries from Trott and Andrew Strauss threatened to take the match away from South Africa, but Philander’s four wickets kept it interesting and left his side chasing 278 to win. James Anderson removed Graeme Smith for a duck but half-centuries from Jacques Kallis and Duminy kept South Africa in the hunt. Graeme Swann had the last laugh, though, as his five wickets helped square the series.

Ian Bell struck a pleasing 75 from just 96 balls in the first innings of the third Test but the rest could not offer that much support as England were all out for 243, with five more wickets for Steyn and three for Morne Morkel. In reply, Hashim Amla batted superbly in compiling 142 in six-and-a-half hours to help South Africa to 382, aided by 82 from Kallis.

Needing 140 to make South Africa bat again, England subsided to 87 all out, with Steyn and Morkel returning identical figures of 4-20 as four batsmen were dismissed for ducks.

The England batting was still struggling when it came to the fourth Test as they were all out for 211, Philander the pick of the bowlers with 5-67. Kallis and AB de Villiers then led a South African recovery from 23-3 to reach a total of 302, with Stuart Broad picking up 5-73.

By this time, the pitch was starting to flatten out, and Strauss took full advantage, batting for more than eight hours in scoring 179. Half-centuries from Alastair Cook, Pietersen and Stuart Broad enabled England to declare at 500-9, setting South Africa 410 to win in 96 overs. Wickets fell regularly to start, but Faf du Plessis ensured a draw with a solid, unbeaten 59.

Batting first in the fifth Test, Alviro Petersen made 65 and his almost-namesake Robin Peterson 64 as South Africa made 302 – Anderson the pick of the bowlers with 4-98. Needing a win to square the series, Strauss and Trott knuckled down to the job in hand and shared a second-wicket partnership of 261.

Pietersen weighed in with 79, but the last eight wickets fell for 92 to end the innings on 401. Just when he was needed, Anderson then delivered the goods, taking five wickets to dismiss South Africa for just 173 to leave England just 75 to win, which they achieved easily.

And so to the sixth Test and South Africa, batting first, managed to make 305, with Swann the pick of the England bowlers with figures of 4-71. Trott’s 121, ably assisted by Collingwood’s 92 helped England to a slender first-innings lead of 36.

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Second time around, Amla was back to top form as his innings of 110 helped set England a trick victory target of 261.

They were soon in trouble at 78-4 and then 124-5 when Bell fell. However, Pietersen rescued things with a superb century and shared a match-winning sixth-wicket partnership of 132 with Matt Prior. By the time Pietersen was dismissed for 103, only five were required for victory, which Prior duly achieved.

So England march on to face Don Bradman’s 1948 Australians in one semi-final, while the other pits Virat Kohli’s 2018 Indians who triumphed at Adelaide against the 2002 Australians.

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